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2017 Fire Calamity FAQs

Fire-Affected Property Notice of Corrections

Property owners with real property that was destroyed or suffered damage over $10,000 as a result of the recent fires will start receiving fire damage reassessment notices over the next few weeks. Please see our FAQs for more information.

Notice of Correction Frequently Asked Questions

Property Reassessment

What is the process for having my property reassessed after the fire?

The Assessor is working with Cal Fire and other county departments to identify all properties with over $10,000 in structure damage. The information we obtain from other agencies will aid us in applying large-scale property tax reductions without taxpayers needing to file paperwork with our offices. However, if you prefer, you may choose to complete a “Calamity Damage Reassessment” application and submit it to the County Assessor.

How long will it take to have my property reassessed?

The County Assessor will process Calamity Damage Reassessments as quickly as possible. Please be patient with the process. Once we have determined your new assessed value you will receive a “Notice of Correction to the 601 Assessment Roll” informing you of the new assessment. Please contact the Sonoma County Assessor’s office you have not received your notice.

If my home or building has only smoke damage, will I get a reduced assessment?

No. By law to receive an adjusted value due to a calamity such as fire, the damage to the structure must be at least $10,000. If you have structural damage at or above that amount, please fill out a Calamity Damage Reassessment application.

My house was not structurally damaged but the market value of my property is less now because of the fire damage in my area.  Why didn’t I get an adjustment?

Under Section 170 of the Revenue & Taxation Code, only properties structurally damaged by a calamity are eligible for calamity relief. If you believe that your property has suffered a decline in market value due to the fire calamity but was not structurally damaged, then you can seek relief under Proposition 8 after January 1, 2018.

More about Value Decline

What information did you utilize to make your decision on percentage adjustments to my damaged structure?

The assessor’s office utilized information from Cal Fire, Permit Sonoma (PRMD), the Sonoma County Sheriff, the City of Santa Rosa, and from our appraisers making field inspections to determine the damage to certain properties.

Rebuilding

What if I rebuild, but there are some variances or differences (i.e. different floor plan; add a full bath; it now meets current building codes; etc.)?   Will my assessment go up or stay the same?

Property owners will retain their factored base year value as long as the structure is rebuilt in a like or similar manner to bring it up to current building codes, regardless of the actual cost of construction.  However, any new square footage or extras such as additional baths, accessory dwelling units, etc., will be added to the Proposition 13 factored base year value at its full market value. The original property will not be reassessed unless there is a new construction event or a change of ownership on the property.

If I do add on square footage, can you tell me what value you are going to add to my assessment, or in fact, do I get reassessed and lose my Proposition 13 basis? How do you determine the value?

We cannot give you a value estimate prior to completion of construction.  You will keep your Proposition 13 basis on structures of record prior to the addition.  The costs and market approaches will be evaluated for the added square footage portion, and then reconciled by our appraiser for a reasonable fair market value conclusion.  A specific notice will be sent out prior to any tax bill.

What if I build a new granny unit to live in before I rebuild the main house?

The granny unit will be assessed at its fair market value when complete and have a new base year value established for that structure since it was never assessed.  When the main house is rebuilt, the two values will be combined.  The two structures will have two separate Proposition 13 base years specific to each living unit.

If I disagree with the value you place on my new construction, what can I do about it?

You may speak with the appraiser who will explain the methodology involved in their decision.  If you feel that there was information missed, you may provide additional information thereafter. If you wish to file a formal appeal application with the Clerk of the Assessment Appeals Board, you must do so within 60 days of the Notice date.

More about Assessment Appeals

Can I transfer my tax value to a temporary residence until I rebuild my original house back onto my lot?

No. You can transfer your value to another residence but that will be considered a permanent transfer of your base year value and you will not be able to move it back to your original residence when construction is completed on the rebuild.

The alternative is to pay the new property tax on your purchase of a temporary residence and reserve your original Proposition 13 factored base year value (calamity reinstatement value) for your property that experienced the total loss.

Relocating

My house was completely destroyed, can I buy a replacement residence within Sonoma County but, possibly in another city or unincorporated area?

Yes, if you move anywhere within Sonoma County, you may purchase a similar type of property (similar in size, utility, and function) up to a value comparison of 120% of the original residence’s fair market value the day before the calamity occurred (Prop 50). Anything above the 120% will be added on at fair market value and combined with the original property’s factored base year value. This transaction must be completed within 5 years of the calamity event date. 

More about Proposition 50

I’ve applied for a Proposition 50. Can you tell me the market value of my property before the fire? Or can you send me the sales for my area so that I can figure out the market value of my home that burned down for the Proposition 50 Base Year Value Transfer?

The Assessor cannot determine a market value for your property before the calamity until a completed Prop 50 application is received and processed. The law requires us to have property transfer information available at our front counter. If our office has to research an area for sales for you, you will be charged a research fee. You may want to contact a local Realtor, or hire a fee appraiser, to determine the fair market value of your home prior to the calamity.

For additional property transfer information, please try searching the ParcelQuest property lookup tool. Look up the property by address or by parcel number, select the Recent Sales tab, then select a date range to view all nearby sales. Please note that “Parcel Quest” is a lookup tool provided by a third party and is not affiliated with the Sonoma County Assessor’s Office.

Lookup property information now using ParcelQuest

Can I buy another house in a different county and transfer the base year value of my damaged house to my new house? (Proposition 171)

Under Section 69.3, a principal residence that was damaged in an area that was a Governor-proclaimed disaster that occurred on or after October 20, 1991 may have its base year value transferred to a replacement residence in a different county only if the county has adopted an ordinance that allows such taxable value transfers. For properties that were considered damaged 50% or more, yes, you can move to another county where they have passed an ordinance that allows the transfer of your tax base to a replacement property. There are 10 counties that will allow these transfers: there are ten counties that have such an ordinance: Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Modoc, Orange, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, and Ventura. Please check with the specific county to see if they are still offering the program before you make a decision to purchase a property there.

The replacement residence must meet the following criteria:

  • It must be purchased within three years of the disaster.
  • Its market value must be of equal or lesser value than the market value of the damaged property immediately prior to the date of the disaster. Depending upon the year in which the replacement property is purchased, the market value of the damaged property is adjusted up to a maximum 115 percent when comparing with the replacement property.
  • It must be eligible for the homeowners' or disabled veterans' exemption (your principal place of residence).
  • Claims for this exclusion must be filed with the county assessor within three years of the purchase of the replacement property.
  • Please see Section 69.3 of the California Revenue & Taxation Code for all of the requirements.

Temporary Housing

Our home was damaged in the fire and we moved out to a rental house paid by our insurance.  Are we still allowed the homeowner’s exemption even though we have not returned to our house as of January 1?

Yes. Temporary absence from a dwelling for repairs made necessary by a disaster will not result in the loss of your Homeowners Exemption, as long as you have not established permanent housing elsewhere (purchased a replacement house). 

Manufactured Homes

My manufactured home was destroyed in the Governor declared fires, am I eligible for property tax relief?

Yes, it may be replaced by a comparable unit without an increase in either the property taxes or the vehicle license and registration fees. 

Taxpayers will need to contact
Housing and Community Development at (800)-952-8356 to fill out paperwork for their loss in addition to our calamity form.

My manufactured home burned down, where do I get a copy of my title certificate?

Please contact Housing and Community Development at (800)-952-8356

Insurance Claims

What information does the Assessor have that can help me with my insurance claim?

The Assessor maintains building sketches for most properties. If you are the property owner, or an authorized agent, who has completed our Authorization to Access Confidential Files form, you may be able to get a copy of that document. 

Authorization to Access Confidential Files form

Clerk-Recorder-Assessor

William F. Rousseau

County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor-Registrar of Voters

Business Hours
Monday – Tuesday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Wednesday
8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Note: Document processing and fee transactions end 30 minutes prior to closing

Address

Assessor's Office

585 Fiscal Drive
Room 104F
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.4659106, -122.7251807